Not Letting Scary Myths Go Un-busted

Hi Readers: Here are some excerpts from a discussion going on — the kind of discussion we can all undertake, when we come face to face with the safety “advice”  that only makes people more scared.  The tips that begin this exchange (vastly edited down, by me) were posted on a PTA list serve by a police department’s “safety expert.” Here goes:

[FROM THE LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT] TO ALL:

If you are a parent, you are certainly concerned about the increasing
amount of criminal activity directed against children of all ages. From
assaults, molestation and kidnapping of very young children, to brutal
muggings, date-rape and murder of college-age students, violence against
children is a terrifying occurrence that strikes numerous families every
day. However, by taking certain precautionary steps, you and your
children can reduce the possibility of your family becoming victims…

– Teach your children to keep the doors and windows in your home locked
at all times. Instruct them that they must never open the door to a
stranger, even if you are home with them….

– When out with your children, never leave them unattended –
anywhere! Don’t leave them alone in your car (even if you are just
running inside the store “for a minute,” or if you are pumping gas
at a self-service gas station). In these instances, you are inviting a
kidnapping, a carjacking or both! Don’t leave your children alone in
a store while you are shopping. Keep an eye on them constantly. It
only takes a split second for a criminal to abduct your children and a
crowded store is no protection.

– While on vacation…Don’t let your children travel from your hotel room to the pool, or any other area, without supervision. You do not want them in an elevator with a stranger or walking in an area in which they could easily be assaulted or abducted.

– Don’t let your children use a public restroom alone. Always go
with them.

– Be sure that your child is not alone when playing outside.

– Reconsider putting your children’s names on their clothing or
possessions in visible locations. If you can see it, so can the
criminals. They can then use the children’s names to convincingly
deceive them…

Protecting older children (middle school through high school):

Most of the safety tips and rules described in the previous part of
this are applicable to older children as well….Please review the previous paragraphs carefully and select those tips and rules that apply to them.

– Talk to your children about the importance of avoiding gang members.

– Tell your children to avoid all contact with drugs and alcohol.

College Students:

….Today’s college students MUST pay extra attention to personal safety.

– Freshmen need to be extra careful as they may be targets for abuse by
upperclassmen.

– Be aware that criminal attacks on campuses are on the rise and should
be taken seriously.

– Always lock your room door when you leave, even if it’s for a short time if you’re just going down the hall.

– When studying in the library, be observant. Often, the best places to study (quiet, unpopulated areas) are the best places to be victimized.

– Don’t go to parties alone, especially if alcohol is served. Never
leave your drink unattended or accept open drinks from someone you
don’t know.

— TO WHICH A FED-UP MOM WROTE —

Dear Ms. P.,

A member of our PTA Listserve just posted your list of recommendations to keep children safe.  I appreciate your concern for children’s safety, but worry that general statements such as “the increasing amount of criminal activity directed against children of all ages” lead people to believe that these types of abduction-type scenarios are common now, when in fact they are incredibly and increasingly rare when you look at the actual data.

…Of course I want them to protect [my kids] from extreme circumstances, but with these warnings, you paint a picture of a world in which predators are everywhere, waiting to pounce at any second, and that my children and I need to be fearful of every person and every situation.  This is not how I want to raise my children.

Please make it clear in future communications of the true likelihood of any of these horrific events.

Sincerely,

Alison Risso

— TO WHICH THE “SAFETY EXPERT” WROTE BACK—

Dear Alison: While I appreciate your feedback, the safety tips are just that — tips to make people aware…. While the tips may be overwhelming to you, I have received feedback from others who appreciated receiving them…. I think it would be remiss of me to give these tips and then in the next sentence relay that the probability of it happening is nil.

— TO WHICH THE FED-UP MOM WROTE BACK —

Dear Ms. P.,

Thank you for your response.  As I said, my objection was….to the statements that these sorts of crimes against children are increasing.  This simply isn’t true and, as a representative of the police department, I expect you to present solid, objective information.

Sincerely,
Alison

AND NOW A WORD FROM ME, LENORE: I love Alison for not letting this expert’s alarmism pass as fact. And I am appalled that this rep from the police department would perpetuate the idea that any moment our kids are in the car alone for three minutes, they are in danger of kidnapping. Or if they are one aisle away from us at the grocery store, they are in danger of kidnapping. Or if they are in an elevator with someone other than their next-of-kin, they are in danger of … you get the idea.

With Alison as a role model, let’s make 2011 the year we don’t let this bad advice get a free ride. (Especially from a stranger! Yikes!) — Lenore

154 Responses

  1. Kids need to be alone sometimes so they can learn to fend for themselves.

  2. Never let your kid go to public restrooms alone?

    So am I going to be seeing 11 year olds in the womens room now? I get having your 3-7 year old go with you if you’re someplace sketchy or very very crowded but this article acts like no child is ever old enough to go to a public restroom alone.

    And to make it worse it combines some very logical bits of advice (lock your dorm room) with absurd advice (be prepared to be raped in the library)

  3. A book on childrearing factoids seems to be apropriate, given that someone writes it.

    The college stuff really had me choking on my coffee. Really?! I mean REALLY?! What are they thinking, that schools kill freshman via hazing? For what it’s worth hazing is not tolerated at most of any colleges. At my own university it was a thing but friendly, basically a bonding thing. You didn’t have to participate.

    And I second Sara. Being raped in the library? Scream for pete’s sake (this isn’t to imply that a victim of rape is at blame if something horrible happens).

    I’ll give it that the drinks part is a good advice.

  4. This is crazy, especially the part about college-age kids. College campi are some of the safest places on Earth. The only danger you face in “quiet, unpopulated areas” is running into the occasional amorous couple. If I were sending a kid off to college, the only warnings I’d give would be about safe sex and not drinking too much.

    And I have never heard of upperclassmen abusing freshman, except the odd fraternity or military hazing.

    Honestly, if your college-age kid needs this kind of advice, don’t send them to college. Just encase them in a plastic bubble for the rest of their life. As an academic myself, I’ve seen some of these young adults who can’t function without their parents (they’ll send their parents to the professor to dispute grades). College is for adults, not infants.

  5. How’s this for ironic? The Google ad at the end of the posting was for a GPS system for kids- “Find your Child in Seconds!”

  6. The “don’t leave your children in the car while you stand right next to them and pump gas” advice (which I’ve seen before!) is especially bizarre to me. I mean, come on safety conscious people. Surely it’s easier for all those gas station kidnappers to grab the kid who is standing next to you than to have to fumble with all those carseat buckles or hotwire the car.

  7. @farrarwilliams – I’m with you on that. It seem especially bizarre when you’re not generally more than arm’s reach away from the car (and more or less attached via the pump).

    Of course, by their logic, you shouldn’t pump your own gas, because you’re inviting a car-jacking. Oh, but you shouldn’t go to a full-service station, because then you’d be allowing a stranger to pump your gas, and that’s stranger could be waiting for the perfect victim to kidnap, and that victim could be you…

  8. To continue the gas pumping thing, it seems to me the real danger is letting your kid stand next to you at the pump. First, I am in Chicago, it is COLD here right now, second I am guessing they would be a much greater risk of getting hit by the car pulling up next to me who is not expecting a kid to be standing there!!

  9. Yikes! That’s all kinds of crazy! And it comes from the police department? Good for “Fed Up Mom” for being persistent. If I were her, I might even go to the “higher ups”–with actual statistics in hand–and let them know what complete alarmist nonsense that is.

  10. On a road trip this weekend my fiance and I left his seven year old daughter alone in the car at a gas station. He went into the store and I walked the dog ten feet away from the car. I could see the car but she couldn’t see me. When I got back in the car she told me that she was very scared that she was going to be stolen. I told her that it was highly unlikely that it would happen especially since I was right outside. As we talked about it she was shocked to hear that children being stolen by strangers at a gas station is not an incredibly common occurance. We try to be pretty free range but she fights us tooth and nail. It is sad that kids have absorbed the “world is dangerous” on their own so much that we have to force her to do things like go outside in our fenced yard unsupervised. She has told me that it is irresponsible of us to let her be outside by herself.

  11. I was off and my Sister and BIL were working so I took my 6 yo niece and 3 yo nephew a couple of days.

    Niece took nephew to the bathroom a few of times, while I was taking care of paying admission, cleaning up lunch. Nephew is is that I have to go now stage of potty training and has trouble with the snaps on his pants. If he can’t get them done he will walk out with the pants and underwear around his ankles -so needs an escort.

    2 times someone walked back with them – to complement them on their good behavior. No one had a negative word to say.

  12. “Teach your children to keep the doors and windows in your home locked
    at all times.”

    Gee, I hope there’s not a fire while we’re fishing around for the key that unlocks the deadbolt.

    “ Don’t leave them alone in your car (even if you are just running inside the store “for a minute,” or if you are pumping gas at a self-service gas station). In these instances, you are inviting a kidnapping, a carjacking or both!”

    If I bring them inside to pay for the gas, am I inviting an armed robbery, a mugging, or both?

    “Don’t leave your children alone in a store while you are shopping. Keep an eye on them constantly. It only takes a split second for a criminal to abduct your children and a crowded store is no protection.”

    Well, if it only takes a split second to abduct a screaming child in a crowded store, I don’t see the point of keeping my eye on them CONSTANTLY. I mean, what am I going to accomplish in a split second? Because it takes me more than a split second to grab the nearest giant can of Beef Ravioli and beat someone over the head with it.

    “While on vacation…Don’t let your children travel from your hotel room to the pool, or any other area, without supervision.”

    So I guess dropping my kids off in the garage to go up to my mom’s condo on the second floor is a no go? Or is that okay since we’re not on vacation when I do that?

    “Don’t let your children use a public restroom alone. Always go with them.”

    Yeah. I’m dragging my seven year old boy in the women’s room with me. Or I’m ignoring the giant signs that say kids over seven have to use the same sex locker room. Or I’m getting up from the restaurant table every single time one of them has to go despite the fact that they have two legs and can walk over there themselves.

    “Be sure that your child is not alone when playing outside.”

    Okay. I’ll just leave them alone inside while they cook in the kitchen.

    “Tell your children to avoid all contact with drugs and alcohol.”

    No more communion, kiddos. And no more antihistimines either.

    “Freshmen need to be extra careful as they may be targets for abuse by upperclassmen.”

    What the what?

    “Don’t go to parties alone, especially if alcohol is served.”

    Finally, some good advice. Because partying alone is pretty dull.

    “Never accept open drinks from someone you don’t know”

    Okay, maybe you should party alone then.

  13. Over the holidays, I stopped SIL in her tracks about “the way things are today.” Her reason for the argument is sound – she was trying to get MIL to carry her cell phone around. MIL’s car is OLD and likely to conk out at any time. But I couldn’t let her reasoning lie. She was trying to convince MIL that she couldn’t trust people these days, that is so much more dangerous. I immediately corrected her, but agreed that MIL should carry the phone. Just because you can trust people, doesn’t mean they will come to you or even be in the area when you need them.

  14. …don’t leave them alone in your car (even if you are just
    running inside the store “for a minute,” or if you are pumping gas
    at a self-service gas station)…

    So, rather than leave my child restrained in his carseat in a busy place with cars driving around, I should get him out and just…do what with him? Watch while he gets hit by a car?

    Does anyone ever feel like these rules were invented by someone who has never even met a child?

  15. It’s a shame, because the local police are in a perfect position to give parents actual, local information on safety, which would help them make decisions. What is the probability of being a victim of a carjacking or home invasion in that municipality? I’m guessing slim to none, so more relevantly: which intersections are the most dangerous for pedestrians? What routes see relatively few car-cyclist collisions? Where can someone get help installing a car seat properly?

  16. Since I have not followed the advice on any of these I guess I’m lucky my son hasn’t been abducted six or seven times already. The part that annoys me the most is it’s the police department putting this out there. Sheesh

  17. I must be a terrible mom, because i’ve endangered my kids in almost all of those ways (other than the college tips, since we’re not there yet).

    The cop fell way short of the mark by failing to mention the part how most abductions and molestations that do happen, are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. I think that would have been the most useful tip he could have offered.

  18. Heather’s story points to what I see as the real crime being committed in all this nonsense. People are truly afraid and feel they’re being negligent unless they’ve whipped children up into a fear frenzy. It’s nothing short of menacing to control people with fear.

    Someone here once commented that children today are being treated like women once were (and unfortunately, in some areas of the world, still are). I think that’s an interesting analogy.

    W: Don’t uncover your hair, show your ankles, or walk unaccompanied in the street — a man who sees that will rape you.

    C: Don’t unlock the windows, open the door, leave the car, walk through a store, ride the elevator, go to the pool, use the restroom, use the library, or play outside — a man who sees that will abduct you.

  19. I’m going to assume that this post is the exception rather than the rule -that the police officer involved is not representative of most police departments approach to giving the public helpful and supportive information.

    I had thought the “Just say ‘no’ to drugs” campaign quietly disappeared in the late Eighties when folk discovered it was not working. I also remember refusing to buy a book around the same time (written by a man who was advising any woman who hitchhiked OR who picked up hitchhikers to go on the pill – just in case they got raped)

    What might be helpful is for all of us to actually provide such “misinformants” with a correctly edited version of their advice (using a red pen of course) and suggestions for positive approaches to keeping us informed.

    I’d also be tempted to copy the person’s line manager into the response and enquire as to when the person last received training on PR, getting the message across and child safety issues.

  20. The thing with this coming from the PD is that the police *only* see the *bad* stuff, so it’s all they know. How often do you call the cops to your house or to the neighbor’s house because everything’s going just fine?

    The police need a more objective viewpoint of these crimes.

  21. I’d love to know what this “cop” suggests to do with 2 children outside of the car in a crowded gas station parking lot while you try to pump gas. Does she really think it’s safe to have a 4 month old in my arms, and try to hold a 2 year old by the hand to prevent him from streaking across the busy parking lot, all while I’m trying to negotiate the debit card, gas cap, and pump, and all the while they are both inhaling noxious fumes from the gas pump I’m sure she truly thinks this scenario is safer than having the 2 kids remain safely buckled in their carseats, shielded from the gas fumes in a locked car, to which I have the keys to in my front pants pocket, and am able to watch them both through the back window of my car the entire time I pump gas.

    This “police officer” is clearly trying hard to justify their department’s existance by needlessly trying to make parents fearful of their own communities. In the words of Bugs Bunney, What a maroon! What a nincompoop!

  22. Another comment.
    What is the saddest of all this is that common sense does not always prevail. I’m sure that there are parents out there that either feel awful about not being able to provide their children with “total” protection (not that there ever was such a thing) or that are doing their very best to follow such lists. It does nothing more than instill fear into everyone but most prominently, the childre you are trying to protect.

  23. @Juliet Robertson – unfortunately, they are still teaching the “just say no” message, in pretty much the same language they have always used, to younger children. This has led to a lot of kids (mine included) coming home from school when they are younger telling us “I should just say no to drugs!!! Um… what are drugs?” Or yelling at us that we should “Just say no!” when we try to take an advil.
    Yeah. That’s effective. ::eye roll::

    This advice sickens me, mostly because I have been hearing it way too often and having to struggle against its effect on people like my ex-husband and his family.
    But, on the brighter side, my daughter and I went to a local amusement park this past week to use up some passes that expired at year’s end, and for every hovering parent I saw, I saw many more who were happily sending their kids off to the bathrooms by themselves, letting their kids stand in line alone even when *just* barely big enough to ride those rides and generally letting the kids be kids. One mother who was clearly having trouble deciding whether or not to leave her kids while she went into the bathroom even decided on doing so when she saw me tell my kid I’d be right back, and the only reaction I got from any parents when their kids decided to wander over and start up conversations with me (which happens all.the.time. I have no idea why) was to ask if they were bothering me.

    So… here’s hoping that with this New Year, even more common sense will start to spread, in spite of “helpful” advice like this.
    (Now, if it will just spread far enough that people here will stop driving their children the block or two to school…)

  24. I get the sense that this police officer (and sadly, others) is trying to give the public what they “want.” Just like those “Good Morning America” Specials on how to avoid [insert unlikely scenario here.] Many people eat those shows up. Those same people appreciate tips on safety as those tips give them the illusion of control.

    It strikes me as similar to how so (too) many doctors are prescribing antibiotics and other pills to appease patients who show up in the office looking for a pill and a quick fix. Notice how the poster of the list noted that she was thanked for posting it (thereby rewarding the wrong behavior, like giving a child a cookie when they throw a tantrum in the grocery store.)

  25. Great that she stood up for this. We need a list of statistics and references to back up our letters so we don’t all re-google this stuff every time. I think she’d be a lot more convincing if she had statistics and figures from the census bureau and other federal agencies in there.

    To be fair–there might be a local rise in crime. I have decided never to go to Florida. The crime rate is obnoxious there. It’s really shocking. Especially certain cities. So maybe she’s from one of those?

  26. Most of what I read there is ridiculous, however the level of danger your children are in depends on the neighbourhood. Some places in my city I wouldn’t let a kid walk to the bathroom alone.

  27. I suspect that one main factor that gives such alarmism a patina of genuine fear-worthiness is the plethora of police procedural television shows featuring an ever-expanding variety of horrific crime and violence week after week. And no shows about regular people enjoying their lives.

  28. Big duh, Michelle.

    The problem is that this advice doesn’t say “Use your common sense and take extra precautions in dangerous areas”, it says “PANIC AT ALL TIMES!”

  29. In May last year the local paper for a small town about 3 hours west of where we live reported this story under a head line about going “beyond the call of duty”.

    A mom called in to report to the police that it was *4:30* on May 1st and she didn’t know where her kids were (and then called back minutes later to say that they had just called and said where they were and that they were headed home).

    The police officer then offered to go over to her house and “speak” to them for her.

    The mother went on to report that the he spent “more than a few minutes” giving them a talking to and that this was more effective than anything she could have said to them.

    She said (this is all from the newspaper) that the look on the boys faces “said it all.., this was SERIOUS”

    Serious? They were a few minutes later than you thought on a beautifule spring day? Cause kids NEVER do that, right? But it was serious enough to call the police and have an officer respond??

    Darn straight it was “beyond the call of duty”… and beyond the call of common sense too.

  30. Every time you need gas, you need to hire a babysitter (preferably one with a complete background check) and go, armed with pepper spray. But don’t leave your vehicle unattended, even while you pay for the gas, because that might make someone think you’re a negligent parent and that your car is full of kids ripe for kidnapping.

    Oh, what the heck, just hire your own personal police car (complete with officer to drive you around.) But don’t ever let him go without your kids — you’ll just have to go everywhere with them.

  31. Oh my, this is damn near, word for word the argument I have every year with the School Safety Officer during our Middle Schools “Straight Talk” event. Last year I said to him, “you make it sound as if there are Predators around every corner, waiting to snatch our kids”. To which he replied, “There are”. It makes me crazy every year and my husband reminds me that the more paranoid he makes people, the longer he keeps his cushy job. (and the reason I go every year and give myself agita is that the aforementioned kids get a homework pass by my attending)

  32. @Uly, you’re right. We have been taught to panic at all times. It’s ridiculous to think that my kids shouldn’t play in a fenced in yard, or answer the door when they see their grandparents (unannounced) on the other side.

    I get a lot of flack from neighbors and relatives alike for letting my 10-year old daughter walk to school, alone. It is three short blocks, complete with lights, stop signs, and a crossing guard. The worst thing that has happened? She’s forgotten her homework, and had to walk back to school!

    Let’s raise kids like we were raised 35 years ago. With responsibility, not panic. With consequences, not fear and what-if situations. With respect for them growing up, and growing older.

  33. I think the most telling part of this post is that the officer responded that she had received “feedback from others who appreciated receiving[the tips].”

    Police officers report to elected officials and elected officials are in the business of pleasing the public and getting more funding for their department.

    This email served THEIR purpose. People want to be afraid and to believe someone is doing something to protect them. Sending no email is “doing nothing” and sending an email saying, “hey crime rates are dropping you should let your kids play outside more” is not a good way to get a budget for that new police car.

    The only way to break the cycle is for all of us to keep standing up and pointing out that sensationalism, not crime, is what is really increasing. Perhaps then we can start to get more money for schools and let the police hold bake sales for new guns.

  34. Unfortunately, the police and other persons in authority are just as likely to be hoodwinked by the fear-mongering as anyone else. Our local sheriff’s office once sent around an alarmist notice about LSD-laden “blue star tattoos” being distributed to children. (Check it out on snopes.) When I told the director of my child’s daycare that the whole thing was an urban myth she looked at me like I was crazy. I think sometimes people WANT to be scared and to believe the worst in every situation.

    I run into people all the time who say “you can’t be too safe” and “the world is a different place than it used to be.” To the former I reply, “yes, you can be too safe, if by being safe you change your way of life and live in fear.” To the second I say, “yes, thank goodness the world is a far healthier, safer place than it used to be. If you believe anything else you are letting the media’s fear-mongering influence you.”

  35. In a moment of Good News…sort of…I spotted a JIF commercial yesterday (Choosy mothers choose JIF!) where Mom is getting ready to make her kid’s lunch and finds that Little Joey has already made himself one – and hers, too! He looks to be about seven or eight years old, and he’s all proud that he’s made his own lunch, and mom’s, with JIF. Presumably he used a knife and everything! And then he marches off proudly with his lunch out to the bus stop BY HIMSELF.

    I know it’s a commercial, but hopefully it better represents the way things really should be.

  36. Of course, I don’t always buy JIF, so maybe that makes me a bad mother…

  37. When Alabama proposed a bill to ban sex offenders from living within 2000 ft of a college (though they can attend), college students lobbied for the bill because they needed “special protection” because they were “vulnerable” and “naive.”

  38. the warning was obviously not from new jersey — it’s against the law to pum your own gas here.

  39. Laura V: And here in Oregon!

  40. PATHETIC!
    I always correct people that say “its a different world, more dangerous”. They are often shocked to hear its not true!

  41. I agree with Brian. I think a lot of this has to do with pleasing paranoid parents.

    On another note, I need a vacation in a hotel. I really need to send my kids around it without me so I can get a perfect score for their age range.

  42. Sadly, at the college I’m going to right now there has been some incidences of crimes. Last year in one of the restrooms a transsexual was stabbed in the chest, and the perp hasn’t been caught. However, the two rapes and sexual harassment were done by boyfriends or ex spouses of female students. There were three incidences of harassment by “strangers” where a student from a local high school was snapping bras of female college students, a homeless guy was flashing in the library late at night, and some naked drunk guy in a dorm. Should I be worried? I don’t like going to the school on the weekend anymore, where it’s less populated, since the stabbing.

  43. I let my 10 year old and 8 year old walk around the grocery store by themselves getting stuff on the grocery list all the time – I send one off for the bananas and the other one off for the yogurt, etc. I thought I was teaching them how to shop for groceries so that when they grow up, they can do their own (and in the meantime, we can get done with the shopping faster so we can go do something fun!). However, it appears what I am really doing is endangering them instead. Who knew?

  44. AB, it comes down to risk assessment. Right now, I’d say your campus seems to have MORE than it’s fair share of problems, so adjust your behavior and choices accordingly. However, should your campus’s problems be the baseline by which all campuses should be judged?

    Sounds like the stabbing was probably a very targeted hate crime, since ‘transsexual’ was apparently a defining point.

    I’d say – be aware, but don’t let the fear rule you. If your gut says “don’t go”, then don’t go! That’s a smart thing. But don’t let it keep you from other places, as well. You know?🙂

  45. Laura L–Maybe the JIF people are forced to be Free Range now that their product is considered potentially lethal by so many schools. The knife to spread the peanut butter seems safe compared to the lethal peanut butter.

    First they came for the “gang members”…then they came for the kids with 2 parents who work out of the home…then they came for the kids who eat peanut butter….

  46. @Lori W. “I think sometimes people WANT to be scared and to believe the worst in every situation.”

    YES! My husband and I recently had a talk about this after a relative told us of kidnappings in a city they go to sometimes that prompted them to buy pepper spray for a friend there. We looked up new stories from there and they were mostly domestic disputes and drug deals gone bad, and took place over a long time! There was even a false report that supposedly took place in a store parking lot (a very scary story for a woman who goes out alone, for sure, but it never actually happened which the news hardly followed up with). The only “stereotypical” case we could find was from hours away and the article quoted the policeman in charge saying it was the only case like that in 20 years of service he’d seen.

    We just couldn’t understand how people truly worried about safety wouldn’t look more into the cases and search out follow-up information. It’s not to say that things don’t happen or that the headlines aren’t tragic, just that if you’re going to make decisions based on, and spend energy worrying about, these frightening headlines it’d behoove you to read past the “attempted abduction” or “missing person” headline and find out if it’s something that actually presents risk to you.

  47. That’s right college kids, no more studying, it’s too dangerous.

  48. Yeah, like I want everyone yelling at me while I unbuckle and get out three toddlers to run around in the parking lot while I pump gas. And then have to put them back in again and take more time. They are older now, but I still get nasty looks at the store when I load my groceries for my family and make sure that everyone is in the car while other people wait for my spot.

    College – well, I would give the advice to lock the room door, especially if they have been drinking. I have a friend, and have heard of several others (all male incidentally) who were raped when they left their door unlocked and passed out on the bed. The perps were trying all the doors (they were all drunk too) until they found one unlocked. Other students testified to this.

    Well, I am glad I don’t live in the same town as this officer. Glad I don’t go to that school either. Oh, and my kids would die of heat exposure if they didn’t open the windows in the summer here. I don’t use AC.

  49. That list just had me shaking my head. To think of all those summer days I endangered my kids by having our windows open so we can get some fresh air in the house. How horrible of me. Or when we lived in Chicago when our front door was ALWAYS open if it was warm and every window in the house. And the door was never locked except at night just as it had always been when I was a kid.

    I now mostly send my kids off to the toy section if they are with me shopping because they get on my nerves begging for junk food. My main rule is if I get called to the front of the store because they were misbehaving they will be in so much trouble when we get home their heads will spin. And when I’m in the toy section with them (or any area) I make them pick up all the toys the other kids throw on the floor (while their parents are diligently watching them so no one will grab them).

    On my mom’s site there was a question about what a “night owl” mom should do when their kid is a morning person. Just about everyone said mom should just suck it up and get up when the kid does even if it is 6am and she just went to bed at 3am. But one mom really went overboard. The kid in question was 6. She said there is NEVER any reason a child, even a 6yo, should be allowed up and unsupervised in a house. The mom should always get up. She even said she was once very sick (cancer or something) and couldn’t get up in the morning so hired some one to come watch her kids. They were 9 and 11 and she would NEVER leave them unattended in the house. I was like WTF? I could understand if they were infants or toddlers but these are kids that should be capable of taking care of themselves for an hour or two but she said no child should ever be expected to “fend for themselves” for any amount of time and any mother that lets them is negligent and selfish.
    Luckily most of the other moms (even the ones telling her to change her lifestyle) thought that one was off her rocker.

    I told her her 6yo should be perfectly capable to get up in the morning, get herself some cereal and turn the TV until mom is ready to get up (especially if she is getting up before an acceptable hour like before 7am). And if her kid wasn’t then she had other problems. Then the crazy lady started up with how she would NEVER allow any child alone ever. Oy. My kids have been getting up on their own since they were 2 and 3 (usually for an hour until they got super hungry then they would wake me). By the time my oldest was 5 they would get their own breakfast if there wasn’t too much milk. When they were 7, 6 and 5 they would also get the baby up (she was 1) and feed her and they’d all watch TV. Now they are 10, 9, 8 and 4 and they are always up before me. They get breakfast and watch TV and at least once a week we hand the baby (5 months) off to them to “babysit” while me and hubby sleep in together. They feed and change him and play with him until we feel like getting up. They love the responsibility but I’m told that it is awful to expect them to care for their baby brother and it’s endangering the baby. I don’t get how. They’ve been taught how to take care of him. He’s not made of glass (babies are so much tougher than people think), they aren’t going to hurt him. They actually behave better when they have the baby because they don’t want to accidentally hurt him.

  50. Never leave the kids in the car? Even if I’m leaning against it while I’m pumping gas? Although my kids are older (9 and 5), it would still be an incredible hassle to drag them out of the car, in the cold, keep them against the van (so they don’t get run over while standing in the road) and then get them back in the car. It would make getting gas a 15 minute ordeal, instead of a quick stop that doesn’t even involve going into the store.

    I do agree with some of the advice for college students. Spiked drinks, attacks on campus, theft (our college has a new commercial about “if you have stuff that is cool, other people will think it is cool and want it too. Keep an eye on your bags while studying and don’t leave them unattended) and fall down drunks left by the side of the road are a reality on college campuses (just ask my late night bus driver husband, who calls 911 for someone passed out on the sidewalk, at least once a week). If your friend is worth being friends with, they won’t leave you passed out on the sidewalk, after you drank too much, because attack aside, passing out drunk is generally a dangerous thing to do, especially on the sidewalk.

  51. And the gas pumping thing really got me. Really…I’m supposed to pull 5 kids out of the car including a 5mo in the cold to pump my gas? That makes a lot of sense. It would take longer to get them all out and back in than it would to pump the gas. I can only imagine trying to follow that advice when I had 3 kids under 3. That was the ONLY time I ever left my kids in the car alone. I was traveling alone with them from MO to Chicago. They were 3, almost 2 and 9 months and we were about to run out of gas so I pulled off the interstate and, of course, the only gas station didn’t have pay at the pump so I pumped, pulled the car in front of the door, locked it and went in to pay. I even ran to the bathroom and filled their cups (took less than 5 minutes). There was no one else at the station and no one said anything. I felt so guilty but the thought of dragging 3 kids out of the car (and the baby was sound asleep as was, I think, the 22mo). It would have taken me 5 minutes just to get them out. I was young then and felt so guilty I almost cried thinking I was such a horrible mother because I didn’t have the energy to get them out which was the “right” thing to do. It took me years to realize I didn’t endanger them. We were in the middle of nowhere and I doubt the attendant would have let some guy drive away with my car full of kids.
    Now I leave them all the time in our small town. Of course, they are older and lots of people do it here.

    [and I will NEVER get used to Oregon and their full service pumps. I hate filling up in Portland…I always try and get my husband to fill up before we leave Vancouver if we’re going to be in OR for awhile…the lines are ridiculous in Portland]

  52. @Jen, lol!! And I’m utterly spoiled and fill up BEFORE driving up to WA…

  53. I am glad that the poster being highlighted has fought back against the insanity. I have my own versions. Here’s one.

    We are having to move in a couple of months. We’re looking a place that’s rather secluded so our children can play on the road without worry. There are roads like that, you know–roads with so little traffic, there’s no harm in letting your children play on the road–and the few people that do drive back there, well, they need to be careful & watch what they’re doing. Heck, I grew up playing on a 55mph road at age 8 on a Big Wheel plastic tricycle.

    But you’d be amazed at the people who think that parents are responsible for not letting their children play on the roads, even extremely rural ones–I am NOT talking about busy 4-lane commuter roads. Right now, at the place we’re having to leave, we live off a dirt path, a PRIVATE ROAD, only 5 households total counting ours even use it. It can easily go hours-long with no cars on it at all. And I stress it again–it is a private road. If you don’t live here, you have no business being back here at all.

    But you’d be amazed at the people who think that if we allowed our kids to play on that road and someone ran over them, it would be our fault for letting them play there. No. The fault rests with someone coming back here barreling fast, not watching what they’re doing. I mean, c’mon–it’s a private road. How far away from civilization does one have to get before a child playing on the road any at all is okay?

    Again, we’re not talking about 4-lane major commuter thoroughfares here, and at any rate the children would be taught–if you see a car, get off to the side and REMAIN there until they’re gone. The CARS, not you, have the right of way in any such cases. You only play there when no one’s around–which is to say, most of the time.

    One place which we’ve found: it’s in the city limits, but WELL off the beaten path, on a dirt-path with ruts on it, mudholes–you name it. It’s surrounded by woods and is near the riverbank. It is decidedly “rural” in its feel. Twice, I’ve been there to check the place out, and left my vehicle parked on the road itself for over 20 minutes–with nary a single car coming by at all the entire time. Someone from the city hall met me there to talk to me about the place, and they confirmed for me–yes, that’s normal, and yes letting your children play there would be totally understandable, and if need be they’d put up signs telling what very few people do come back there to watch out for the children, vs us having to keep them off the road altogether.

    Yes, you better believe it–if that’s where we move, you better believe I’m letting my children play on that road, and there had better not be anyone dare run them over & say it’s my fault for not making them stay off the road. The same goes for those irresponsible types letting their dogs run loose–keep your dogs under control, and if they mess with my kids I’m not going to listen to a bunch of “well your kids ought not be out playing.” Sorry sir, I respectfully say–the rights of my children trump the “right” of your stupid dang-blang dog to run loose and bother them. I have to tell you–such thinking is so common, I’m starting to become prejudiced against all dog lovers. Anyone that thinks a dog (or cat, pick your critter) is in anyway comparable to a human in importance has serious mental issues, in my opinion.

    LRH

  54. “Don’t go to parties alone, especially if alcohol is served.”

    Finally, some good advice. Because partying alone is pretty dull.

  55. Jennifer, on January 4, 2011 at 03:12 said:
    “I let my 10 year old and 8 year old walk around the grocery store by themselves getting stuff on the grocery list all the time”

    Keep that up! That is how my dd started, and now that she is 16 she takes the bus to the store, does the groceries and takes a cab home…

    if she would ever get a license to drive she could drive while she does it, but for now this works🙂

  56. oops, hit post too soon. I just wanted to make sure everyone saw Sky’s funny comment.

  57. @AB. What you need is some clear-cut crime incidence reports. How many crimes per capita in the “regular” city in which the college is located and at college itself. It’s always the high profiled crimes that stick out and will be remembered as the norm rather than the exception.

  58. My husband and I just visited Disneyland together for the first time over the holiday, and were commenting that it seemed like an incredible place for a kid to get “lost” for the first time. It’s an enclosed area, there are families and caring adults all around, it’s easy for parents to point out the “right” adults to seek out (people with nametags), and there is a specific lost-child policy in place — children under 10 have to wait at guest services, and children 10 or over can leave their name at guest services and then go back to playing in the park. I was quite impressed.

  59. The problem with lists like this is that some good advice is mixed in with some absolutely crazy advice, so people end up taking none of it seriously. For instance, the incidence of sexual assault is usually significantly higher on college campuses than in their surrounding communities. Even schools in bucolic places often have severe problems. Kids see the place as safe and don’t know to take some of the precautions outlined here.

    AB – Because colleges were often significantly sweeping these incidents under the rug, several years ago a law was passed requiring colleges to report crime stats to anyone who asks. The stats are probably buried somewhere on the school’s web site. Don’t just look at your school – like I said, campuses usually have higher rates of certain crimes than the surrounding community – look at your school as compared to schools of similar size and similar locations to see if you should be worried.

    I love the advice to “avoid gang members.” Yeah, OK. We do have a gang problem in our city, and the police have recently developed a gang prevention program for 5th and 6th graders. (Kids that age are often approached by gangs for “grooming” to become members in high school.) The program is very good in that it teaches things like confidence, what joining a gang might mean for your future, signs that someone is grooming you – often by time kids realize they have been participating in a gang, it is very difficult to extricate themselves – how to avoid gangs when you are sharing a classroom with gang members, etc. This is a lot more helpful than “avoid gang members.” The other thing I like about the program is that kids get to know the cops teaching it as real people, and have a better attitude about the police than kids who haven’t been in the program. Kind of like the writer yesterday whose son was given a sticker by a police officer – another positive interaction with police.

  60. Oh dear. My kids fight over who gets to open the front door when someone arrives. I would actually prefer them not to open the front door without asking me first – but they’re 6 and 3 year old boys and the body doesn’t always connect with the brain before it acts.

    Last week I had one of my boys and six of the neighbourhood kids here. I was out the back hanging washing and heard the dogs barking and the kids talking to someone. They’d not only opened the front door, but invited the two strangers in. I came inside to find two slightly bemused men standing in my dining room surrounded by children asking them who they were and what they were holding and two terriers sniffing around their feet and deciding whether or not to bark some more.

    I commented drily on the superb security at my place and asked who they were. Turns out they were the administrators of a community group I’m part of and they were there to offer their personal thanks for my contribution this year and to give me a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates. So glad the kids didn’t tell the terrible, evil, gift-bearing men to go away.

    (Although I did tell them that I didn’t want them letting people into the house without checking with me in future. One day they’ll remember).

    P.S. We’ve just come back from a short but lovely Christmas vacation in the bush where my kids swam in the dam, made a magic kingdom out of happy meal toys out the back behind the water tanks (a site chosen precisely because I couldn’t see it), spent the entire week in various states of grubbiness, slept every night in a house with open windows and unlocked doors (and a couple of bats inside on the first night), and survived locust swarms, ants nests, mosquitoes, a little snake, and spider-eating wasps. We’re back home in suburbia now – cut, scraped, bitten but very happy and relaxed.

  61. This one is my (not) favorite:
    “Don’t leave them alone in your car (even if … you are pumping gas at a self-service gas station).”

    Are you supposed to make the kids get out of the car and stand next to you while you pump the gas? Sure, that sounds safe. If you have a baby in a carseat, are you supposed to unbuckle it, put in your sling or front pack, and try not to whack it with the nozzle or drip gas on it? Maybe you’re just supposed to balance the baby on your own head. Sheesh.

  62. @Melanie, we do have a “no opens the doors without talking to mom first” rule but that stemmed from a specific incident.

    My 5 year old opened the door while I was in the shower (totally my fault for assuming a 5 year old was capable of being left unattended for a 10 minute shower . I was finishing up when I heard her talking to someone so I tossed on a robe and went to check (she tends to yell at the dog when he tries to play so I wanted to break it up before we got to the screaming point). Turns out, some guy was going around the neighborhood handing out political flyers and there he was, standing at my door, as I walk around the corner with dripping wet hair, wearing nothing but a robe.

    So no one opens the door unless I say so anymore LOL

  63. I think I’ve figured out the logic behind the tips for college age kids; by the time you’ve raised them in a paranoid bubble for 18 years, they need to be treated like clueless idiots who can’t even cross the street without killing themselves. This answers the question about what helicopter parents expect to happen to their little hothouse flowers once they reach adulthood and have to start fending for themselves. They just keep up the helicoptering through the college years too.

  64. I asked. My 16 year old son does not want to use the ladies room with me. Do you think it’s safe for him to go alone? 🙂

  65. […] Not Letting Scary Myths Go Un-busted Hi Readers: Here are some excerpts from a discussion going on — the kind of discussion we can all undertake, when we […] […]

  66. Hmm, honestly some of this advice has been given cause an incident happened.

    As for the College Library, it is a area to be aware of. I was studying at a community college and had a guy sit in front of me and begin to masterbate. I told him to go away and then reported it to the campus police. And I was told it wasn’t the first time that month…spent another 4-5 yrs at various colleges and nothing like that has happened since, and I still seek out quiet places to study in the libraries.

  67. @Jen Connelly That crazy lady would have flipped out on my sister. Boxing day they drove 15 hours home (we are in Texas). They got in at like 2 am Monday the three kids slept once it got dark on the drive. My Sis and BIL were exhausted.

    The kids got up about 7, tried to wake up Mom and Dad and that didn’t work. The two youngest watched tv for a while. Then the oldest got up, realized there was pretty much no food in the house, because they were gone a week.

    She grabbed money from an emergency envelope her parents keep in the kitchen and took the younger ones shopping. Mom and Dad woke up to 3 kids ready to fix them breakfast.

  68. I bet even the most helicopterish of helicopter parents don’t get their kids out of the car when they’re pumping gas (though I’m sure they do if they have to go inside to pay). That’s easily one of the most ridiculous “tips” I’ve ever seen.

  69. [I think it would be remiss of me to give these tips and then in the next sentence relay that the probability of it happening is nil.]

    So she is effectively saying, ” I would rather you live with the fear that something which is unlikely to happen, might happen, than to have the idea that you might assess the probability yourself, and take whatever actions YOU deem appropriate.”

  70. As noxious as this “expert’s” comments are, I really think he discredits everything he says with the kicker about not leaving your kids in the car while you pump gas yourself. Lots of other people have pointed out the fallacies with this advice, so I will only offer my own sad, yet freak accident story. Several years ago a father in my hometown got his son out of the car & lifted him up to swipe the credit card at the pump. Something about the swipe or being picked up created enough static electricity to create a spark that ignited the fumes & burned the boy and his father very badly. Now, this was a freak accident and shouldn’t, I don’t think, keep you from letting your kids help out with things we consider menial and they seem to think is really cool. But, I think it may be as or more rare than a child being abducted out of their carseat from a possibly locked car while you stand 3 feet away. Yet, the police think you should not leave them out of your direct care. Really, what is safer? That is absolutely absurd to me. So much so that I would take nothing else this man says seriously.

    Oh, and I have a foreign make car, so I can stand right in front of the door where my daughter’s car seat is located, if necessary, while pumping gas. Is the abductor going to break in from the other side… before I can get to her. What is this guy thinking… I’d love to rip him a new one on this point!

    If we all went electric & just plugged in at home this would be a moot point. Just as it would if we could walk or bike more safely in more places in the U.S.— but now I am showing my urban planner & environmentalist colors…

  71. Wait, wait, wait. I should be telling my kids to AVOID gang members?? And drugs and alcohol? Oh my, this changes everything!

  72. My first thought about all the tips offered by the officer was that they are essentially harm reduction techniques that reduce the likelihood that the victim will be seen as a victim. While that’s all fine, it does *nothing* to reduce the likelihood that a perpetrator will commit the crime. In fact, it can give people a false sense of security if they doing all the “right” things. We *so* need to refocus our attention on the area where the work needs to be done — on those who perpetrate the crimes!!!

    I work on a college campus, addressing health and safety issues through prevention education. Theft is the most common crime on campuses today — mostly crimes of opportunity where possessions are left unattended or unlocked. So I do agree with the tip about locking doors and it’s always good to be aware of your surroundings. But on the whole, campuses are relatively safe; it doesn’t mean that harm does not occur. It does.

    Other than theft, a great deal of harm experienced by students involves alcohol consumption, on the part of the victim or the perpetrator or both. Unattended drinks being drugged are *not* the problem they are made out to be — alcohol is the drug of choice for anyone who wishes to subdue a person on a college campus.

    This is especially true in the case of sexual violence. And the stranger in the dark alley is effectively a myth — it’s the friend, acquaintance or even dating partner that is most likely to perpetrate a rape or sexual assault. This is true in the general population as well.

    I could go on (after 15 years doing this work, I have a few opinions!) but I’ll leave it at that for now!

  73. The police-note nonsense is why the population of helpless and worthless young people continues to rise. Our children are only helpless when misinformed fear mongers spread their virus around, causing otherwise bright and intelligent people to behave and react like wusses.

    Keep up the excellent work…it’s great to hear positive stories from like-minded folks!

  74. Lenore, is there any way we could have a message board or forum on your website so we can meet other Free-Range moms in our area? I am surrounded by paranoia, just like the mom in this story, and I’d really like to find friends for my kids to play with in the free-range manner they were meant to play in!

  75. Lauren, there’s a community over at CafeMom.

    I agree with everyone that incidence of college rape is up a lot. A lot of that has to do with reporting so that’s a mixed bag–good that people are reporting more, but also somewhat misleading because it’s not sure whether rape rates are up or whether women are more empowered to report what was in the past a shame.

    What a shame the police didn’t focus on the reality: that a lot of young drinkers are inexperienced, don’t know their limits, and can be raped while drunk. Their advice not to go alone with a group of people you just met is actually good advice that most people follow, while youth sometimes forget. It’s also impossible when you don’t know *anyone* at college! However, setting a firm limit for the number of drinks and drinking slowly until you get to know people better (such as the second quarter) is not a bad idea.

    Again, not to blame the victim, but it’s hard to scream when you’re passed out.

    Libraries are very big, there are not always people on every floor, and actually a common site of rapes. 😦 At my college, three girls were raped in the library. (No frats, either!!!)

  76. Elizabeth…I have to disagree on several of your points. I’ve worked as a college health educator on sexual violence, sexual health and alcohol/drug issues for 15 years, so have first hand knowledge and experience on these issues.

    The vast majority of campus rapes and assault happen between two people acquainted with each other, occur mostly in residence hall rooms and private apartments, and mostly with alcohol involved. While your personal experience is unique, libraries are NOT a common site for campus rapes. In my career, I’ve mostly dealt with indecent exposure cases in libraries, and usually involving a male non-student flashing a female student.

    Reporting *is* up — but is still abysmally low. In the general population, perhaps 1:10 rapes are reported. On campuses, it tends to be more like 1:15 or 1:20 because the community is small, people talk and again, we’re talking about students who usually share a social circle. Peer culture is incredibly powerful on campus and if the culture says reporting it not supported — even if the resources are in place at the institution — reporting won’t occur.

    These are complex issues that require complex solutions. But too much attention is being placed on harm reduction strategies for women and not enough on the perpetrators…or on creating a culture that doesn’t support this kind of violence.

  77. Also, to the earlier poster regarding campus requirements to post crime stats — this requirement came from the Clery Act, which requires at least 3 years of crime data be made available. Typically the stats can be found on the campus police or security department’s website.

    Reporting crime stats doesn’t deter criminals though nor does it really make a difference in terms of understanding the true picture of crime on campus. I’m sure some small number of campuses do “sweep things under the rug”, but there are nuances to data reporting. For example, something might not be reported if there was a complaint, but no charges filed. Same thing happens with local police, so campuses are not unique in this.

  78. Lisa, yes, it is still much too low, I agree!

    I am just saying, it’s abusing statistics to suggest that rape statistics are up because rapes are up. We don’t know that. We can only hope that we keep hearing more and more about it until it levels off and we can start reducing it at the root.

    “The vast majority of campus rapes and assault happen between two people acquainted with each other, occur mostly in residence hall rooms and private apartments, and mostly with alcohol involved.”

    This is exactly what I am referring to. A guy or gal from class invites you to a party. There are people from your classes there. It’s still the first week or two or month of school–how well acquainted could you be?!? But as a college freshman, you may feel you have “bonded” over this new experience.

    I guess what I mean is, I am talking about “mere” acquaintances. Obviously they are not walking into random parties! Very few people do.

    I would like to focus on strategies to get rapists off the streets but I guess as a woman, it seems pointless to shout at these jerks again and again–“Hi, I’m a person, please don’t rape me.” Duh. They just… don’t believe that. Or don’t care. Or whatever.

    I have zero faith that they are going to until rape is reported and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and maybe a generation into it we will see some change, and that will be great, but this blog is about personal responsibility and safety and doing what you can to keep yourself safe. Hence, my own recommendations.

    But you are right, ultimately it is the man’s responsibility not to rape a woman. Until I can trust a man I don’t know, I have to take basic precautions.

  79. Lisa, I just want you to know that I love everything you had to say. I work with teen girls, and I’m always being told to remind them of “safety tips” to avoid being victims of sexual assault. That’s fine, but I would love it if someone was doing a group with their male counterparts, reminding them not to assault young women.
    Yes, it’s a good idea not to get wasted and to be aware of your surroundings. But things happen, people have a few too many. A young women not knowing her limits when it comes to alcohol hardly means that she’s “asking for it.”

  80. I hope you don’t mean I implied that anyone EVER “asks for it”. 😦 Nobody ever asks to be raped–by definition, it is non-consensual and you can NOT ask to be raped.

    However, it is useless for me to talk to my girls, when they get older, about how men are supposed to not rape them. I have to think of what I, personally, can do, beyond contribute to political groups that believe women are worthy of basic human respect. (And know that my contribution and my presence and events is not going to increase my safety one single iota, by the way, until the laws are passed, the judges’ minds are changed, the police and patrols are on the streets and the rape kids are widely available, and and and everything it takes to make men realize this is a crime and it’s wrong and your life will be over if you commit it. As much as I’d like to think so.)

    Pragmatically speaking, to prevent rape *now* women have to think of what they themselves can do. Because we can’t control men. It doesn’t mean we’re at fault, any more than a pedestrian is at fault when they get hit by a drunk driver.

    But you can still reduce your risk by not standing at a busy intersection in all black on a Friday night.

    And you do NOT happen to have a few too many. If you can’t control yourself, do not drink. It’s a drug. Don’t get drunk. Really. Say no. If people threaten you with violence, leave. No fun? No, it’s no fun to be around asshats, and no fun to leave. But really… regardless of rape, you should not be drinking to the point where you don’t know what you’re doing any more. Ever. At any age. Anywhere. It’s bad for your brain, body, social status, everything.

    But much less when you’re young, when you don’t know your environment well, and when you know you’re in a major rape-center, known as a college campus.

    We need to separate a person’s responsibility to not get plastered from a person’s self-interest (reduce risk of becoming a target) from their RIGHT not to be raped. Nothing can renege that right.

  81. No, I wasn’t replying to what you were saying. When I said that people sometimes have a few many, though–it does just happen. Especially to college kids who don’t have much experience and don’t know what they can handle. And being a little intoxicated, as in having one or two drinks, can impair your ability to say no assertively, or to run when you need to. Doesn’t have to be a girl passed out in a bathroom after shooting tequila.

    What I was talking about was that we need to be talking to boys and young men about this. It’s a rare rapist who sees himself as a rapist. Like everyone has said, the predator lurking in the bushes is, by and large, a myth. The boy who pushes a girl who has had a few too many, or gets too grabby after he himself has been drinking, is very real.

    People are always telling young women to watch out for themselves, to not put themselves in a bad situation. It’s rare that anyone says, “hey guys, don’t drink too much, and don’t have sex with a woman if you aren’t 100% sure she’s into it, because otherwise, you might do something you regret.”

    Now, this is rather off topic, so I’ll be going.

  82. At all the colleges I went to there was compulsary education classes for both men and women aimed at reducing the rate of sexual violence.
    Interesting stuff.

    Some of the techniques we were taught DID work. But it wasnt about putting yourself in a bubble away from people. It was about reading situations, and having a few ways that usually worked to get out of bad situations if you suddenly realized.

    The not accepting drinks from people you do not trust is common sense in certain situations. I wouldnt from someone I just met at a house party, but I might at work (depending on the individual offering).
    Partying with people you know is way more awesome😉 But, back when I was in a new city and knew no-one I would txt my bestfriend (in other state) as to where I was and would txt him again when I got home safely. Made me feel safer anyway that SOMEONE knew roughly where I was. Otherwise it could have been weeks before anyone noticed!

    The best advice for university is watch your friends and make sure theyre watching you. Friends keep each other safe.

  83. I agree that at least some college campuses aren’t as safe as the neighborhoods the students grew up in, so some students need to be warned. The campus I attended was surrounded by a low-income community with a high crime rate, and there was nothing to stop neigborhood folks from walking onto the campus. I came from a rural town where nobody locked their doors, tots played outside alone, etc. I had lived in a big city before that, but I can relate to the contrast. Being alone (even in the library) was scary because there were incidents. And, there was a lot of theft between students, what I’ll call “unplanned sex” mixed with alcohol, etc. So yeah, be careful. But that doesn’t mean hide from the world, or act like a loon. Just use your brain.

    I’d suggest that young people stay the hell away from alcohol outside their parents’ homes. But that’s just me.

  84. As for the young kid advice, I think it’s pretty much all been said. I did receive a similar note from a local cop via my kids’ daycare. “Don’t ever leave your kids in the car, or we’ll take appropriate action.” I wouldn’t have the guts to talk back, because I don’t want the cops targeting me. I don’t appreciate the intimidation. Once again, we’re ruled by fear, but the fear is of the person who’s supposed to keep us safe.

  85. I have broken every rule on the list.

    I am a bad mom.
    😛

  86. Was there anything on the list about drown-proofing? Or proper safety restraints in cars? Or teaching kids to watch out for cars backing up and other basic traffic awareness? I didn’t see it, but my eyes sort of glazed over at all the Fear!Panic!Tremble! talk.

    Was there anything in the list about keeping kids safe from the people who might actually hurt them–their own relatives? I remember a PSA campaign about “Take time out. Don’t take it out on your kid.” Where did that go?

    And why were kids of all ages mixed up together in this list? 18 is not eight years old is not eight months old. When are the kids allowed to grow up?

  87. Christmas is meant to be a joyous time of year — an chance for family and friends to get together and celebrate the holiday season as befits their customs and beliefs. Unfortunately, the sheer number of planning that’s complicated can sometimes detract from the enjoyment of the occasion, and the pressure of a deadline can sometimes make Christmas seem more like hard work than a happy festival. And for some people, the concept of Christmas shopping is the anticipation that they dread the most.

  88. The thing about not accepting drinks from strangers is a bugbear of mine, as I think it’s a misleading piece of advice that detracts from the true risk – drinking too much. This piece of research caused a lot of horror http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/6440589/Date-rape-drink-spiking-an-urban-legend.html because it suggested that actually people, women especially, were thinking they’d been spiked, when they’d actually drunk more than they thought/mixed drinks in a way that made them feel ‘weird’.

    I’m inclined to agree with this research – I have on one or two occasions felt very odd after drinking. Not even very much, but sometimes mixing different kinds of drinks. I don’t believe for one moment that my drinks were spiked (I was in a gay club on one of the occasions, for a start!) – but I am a small, light woman, and sometimes drinks can affect one more than one expects.

    People were upset by the research as they saw it as ‘putting women at risk’ or ‘blaming women’, but the fact is, young women need to be warned that the danger is not legions of men wanting to knock them out so that they can have their wicked way, but them going too far without realising it, and being taken advantage of by, most likely, an equally drunk guy. So equally, guys need warning not to drink so much that they do something terrible.

  89. AUGHH! How is anyone supposed to even LIVE with this kind of adv ice coming from supposedly reliable sources? As Lenore has said before, Law and Order has a lot to answer for. And then there was that episode of Medium where a college student had been murdered … oh wait, that turned out to be her own family …
    Claudia’s point re drink spiking is a good one. In the capital city where I live (pop. 1 million), guess how many reported incidents of drink spiking (girls turning up off their faces in the ER) turned out to be actual drink spiking in one year? NONE. Not one girl, of the many girls who claimed they had been victims, had actually had anything added to her drink.
    And as for pumping gas (petrol, as we call it in Australia) – haven’t they heard that inhaling gas fumes is very bad for you, and is especially dangerous for children? I insist my kids keep the windows up on that side of the car. And as others have said: what are you supposed to do with them while you’re filling the car? Leave them standing in the path of all those cars dodging around each other?
    No, I think on the whole they’re a lot safer in the car – even when I (yes, it’s true – gasp!) – LEAVE THE CAR AND GO INTO THE PETROL STATION TO PAY!! Sometimes there’s a line and I might even take 5 minutes. I know, I’m living on the edge. It’s WILD here, baby!

  90. @Larry — Here in Germany (here I go again) they actually have roads designated as “play streets”.

    These streets are in the cities as well as in the suburbs or country (albeit on narrower, less well traveled roads inside the city). Play streets are marked with a large blue and white (wordless) sign depicting children playing. I learned that on these streets a child’s right to play trumps a car’s right to drive. So, conceivably, if children decide to continue playing, the car has to stop and wait for as long as it takes. Of course the reality is that most children scatter out of the way when they hear a car approaching. I once drove on one of these streets and there was a group of little children playing. They all ran out of the way except for what looked like the oldest child (around 5 yr. old). He took a defiant stance, hands on hips, for a few seconds before getting out of the way — I guess he knew his rights! How these “play streets” get established I don’t know. Perhaps residents who live in the street request it? Maybe Americans could start this sort of thing.

    I once read on a (American) website a comment about children playing on the street, that went something like: “Roads are made for cars, kids have no reason to be there”. Which sci-fi book/film is it again (take your pick) where the machines are the masters of the humans?

    As for dogs in Germany. If you dare suggest they’re less than human, you’re in trouble buddy. A leashed dog here is the exception, not the rule. And although I must admit they are mostly extremely well behaved, if your out for a day in the park with your toddler, be afraid be very afraid as the “only a puppy” (that’s bigger than your toddler standing) bounds on over to “just say hello”.

  91. @socialjerk
    When I was in JH and HS we had a safety portion of the health unit. Girls and boys were separated for several day during the health unit while things like breast exams were discussed.

    One of the things discussed was what rape was and practical things we girls could do to protect ourselves. One of the points they made was we were more likely to be assaulted by someone we know so to listen to that something is off voice in your head and stay in control by not getting high or drunk.

    A few years ago I asked my guy cousin what they were told during time boys and girls were separated. They had some male health stuff – but the coach made it clear that rapist were the lowest of the low deserving to be stomped out that no was no and if someone was incapacitated it was rape.

  92. It is true that most drink spikings are in fact over consumption of alcohol.

    However, I know independently of two cases where this was totally and utterly not the case. One: A girl did die from a spiking. Yes she had a bit of alcohol on board, but there was still spiking. Caught on camera, guy charged and convicted.
    Two: Girl was designated driver, and well known for being responsible. As in, she rarely drank and she would never have done so if she was to drive. Especially as it would have meant her precious car getting towed the next day. Luckily friends noticed she was acting drunk and took her to hospital. Blood test confirmed no alcohol and presence of a drug.

    But, these are two cases😉
    And considering what I work as… Yeah, I agree most are the over-consumption of alcohol. BUT NOT ALL.

  93. Wait- if I’m pumping my own gas, I should let the kids out of the car to stand beside me so they’re not “alone” in the car? I’m thinking the odds of them getting hit by a car in that situation are far greater than them getting kidnapped when I’m standing right there- or even when I (*gasp!*) go in to the store to pay.

  94. Good for her. I have to say, I did like the advice for college-aged people (“children”? Seriously?) but the rest of it was just over the top. It’s a wonder my own children are still alive and with me, given that I follow almost none of that advice.

    As to making this the year we combat such tactics, I’m happy to report I started early. A couple of weeks ago I was mentioning in a group the lack of crossing guard at the one busier street my son crosses going to school. It’s not a problem now, but will be next year once my younger one is no longer eligible to bus since I’m not sure he’ll listen to his big brother on matters of safety. Someone in the group told me there are more things to worry about than traffic, which I responded to by raising my eyebrows. “You’d be surprised …” “No I wouldn’t, I’ve already checked with every level of law enforcement to find out the truth. ” She dropped the subject at that point.

  95. As to the gas station, we recently had our nine year old get out of the car so he could see how we pump the gas and were told by the station attendant that it was against the rules to have a child near the pumps. So what on earth is a conscientious parent supposed to do anyway?

  96. @Tuppence As people who’ve known me for years would expect, I agree-disagree passionately with the 2 respective points of view.

    This is apt to be long, my apologies in advance.

    I definitely like the idea of play-streets, in residential areas anyway. My normal disposition is to be “car priority” with any & all roads, and even on play-streets I believe children should be taught to basically move out of the way of the cars to let them go. However, the idea that children have no business playing on the streets next to their house where they live, especially if it is a typically narrow street chock full of houses, is wrong. Such roads aren’t meant to handle large volumes of traffic anyway, no one has any business being on that road going high speeds.

    At the place I’m looking at moving to, twice I’ve been there to check it out, both times I was there 15 minutes or more–and never ever once saw a car go down that road, at all. It is a very narrow dirt path, surrounded by woods to boot, that even 1 car at the time has a hard time squeezing through. Anyone who lets their child play on such a road is doing something very natural and shouldn’t be having to think about huge numbers of other cars. (Something like a 4-6 lane “commuter” road with lots of businesses and that was obviously meant to handle the heavy traffic loads–that’s different, to me, children should basically stay off of such roads so that cars can get where they’re going without having to look so hard.)

    Now, for the dogs section–and please forgive me if I become too “heated” in my opinion here, because this is something that I’m quite emphatic about, just as much as I am a parent’s right to raise their children as they see fit without busy-bodies meddling in their business.

    I don’t hate dogs, really I don’t, but I do find certain aspects of many of them annoying–and am very adament in my right to expect that they leave me alone. I don’t have the same free-range attitude with dogs which I have towards children, for one reason–they’re not human. For anyone to suggest dogs are anything remotely human–frankly, I consider such persons to be suffering from a mental disease. Yes, I mean it–I consider them to be suffering from a mental disease. No way any animal–dog, cat, ferret, whatever–is equal to a human being in importance and priority. To think they are is just sick.

    I consider a barking dog noise pollution at best and even downright harassment equal to a situation where, say, a woman is being stalked by a man who won’t leave her alone. I actually consider it that serious. When I’m NOT on someone else’s property, I have the right to expect that someone’s dog doesn’t come roaring up to me barking at me and yapping like an idiot in my face. I have the right to expect that even in public, when on the roads & sidewalks–and yes, the parks too–and I certainly have the right of that expectation when I”m on my own property.

    When such dogs are friendly and fun, I don’t mind it and even welcome it–but when they’re noisy yappers barking in my face, I absolutely can’t stand it and consider such behavior to be a violation of my personal space. I even carry pepper spray–and will use it–on such a dog if it gets too close. That’s the one aspect of the new place I’m considering which doesn’t work for me–one of the neighbors thinks it’s his God-given right to have his dog yap at me when I’m on my own property (the lot I’m considering) and once it even came onto my property to harass me. Good thing for that guy that this is in the city, not the rural areas where I live, because you know what the sheriff where I live told me to do to such dogs? Shoot them on sight. That’s right, shoot them on sight.

    In the city that won’t work, and I would rather not anyway, but you better believe I’d be on the phone with the city police-animal control everytime that happens. I am a passionate free ranger, yes, but I also am passionately defensive of the Mr Wilsons of the world (from “Dennis The Menace”)–that is, the right to be in your space and to be left the hell alone by anything you find annoying. And I expect people’s dogs, if they’re barking and running loose, to leave me the hell alone.

    I mean, really–as much as I believe in children free-ranging, and I do, what also comes with that is that the children behave. They can’t trespass onto someone else’s property and bother them if they want to be left alone. They’d be totally wrong at bothering passers-by walking by our own place, even though our kids would be on our property at the time. Would people subject to this appreciate me saying “well kids will be kids” as an excuse? Of course not–they’d expect me to handle it.

    Well, why shouldn’t dog owners? If my child isn’t allowed to throw dirt at you or yell at you even when my kids are on their own property & you’re walking by, how comes it’s okay for your dog to bark at me and come nip at my heels because “dogs will be dogs?” That’s no excuse whatsoever, and I find it highly offensive–and won’t hesitate to telephone animal control to deal with such low-lifes.

    Your dog ISN’T a human being, it’s an animal that is beneath us humans, and as a human I expect to be respected as above them. Period.

    End of “Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch” style rant.

  97. PS (sorry for that)–to clarify, when I was talking about my children bothering other people, I wasn’t descriptive enough.

    Examples would be: if my kids are out “free ranging” on the streets and, as opposed to simply staying on the street, they go onto a person’s property to play but the “Mr Wilson” type doesn’t want them there. I might not find the “Mr Wilson” type particularly my favorite person, and would appreciate the others who are of the “sure, they can come over anytime” spirit–but I respect that the Mr Wilsons of the world, if they feel the way they do, have the right to be left alone rather than being told to “deal with it, kids are kids.”

    More to the point, I also was talking about situations where my children deliberately provoke others. With my children on my own property and someone passing by, they would either (a) run out to that person and kick dirt on their shoes etc or yell “what are you doing around here you ugly old freak” to their face or (b) they’d yell out such obscene things to them while on their own property (our place).

    If anyone’s child did that, the victim would have every right to shoo the child away and tell the parents something like “your child is being very disrespectful and I’d appreciate your handling this.” I can tell you, if my child ever did such a thing, I would not stand up for my child, I’d back the adult–and my child would be in very serious trouble. I would not dare say “well, kids will be kids”–even though that’s behavior common with kids, because while it is common, it’s also offensive and should be corrected.

    What I’m saying is this–in like manner, if someone’s dog is yapping their gums at me barking at me while I’m at my own place, or while I’m walking by or, worse, comes out to where I am and barks at me and is nipping at my heels, I expect the same sort of response that I just described. Reel your dog back in, and apologize–and train it to leave me and others alone who don’t share your distorted view that your dog walks on water and heals the sick.

    Again, when they’re friendly, I don’t mind them and even welcome them, but when they’re noisy like that, it’s a violation of my personal space and I expect it to be under the dog owner’s control at all times, period, no excuses whatsoever.

    Oh, final PS–I actually own a dog, and treat it well, and yet I train it to behave just as I’ve described, out of respect for others.

    FINALLY, end of rant.

    LRH

  98. Some really bad advice mixed in with some good.

    Gotta comment on the drinking thing — “taking drinks from strangers” actually lulls you into a sense of security since you would assume a drink from someone you know is fine.

    Even if you assume spiked drinks are pretty common, you would be just as likely to receive a spiked drink from a boy you know as a boy you don’t know.

    However, the real danger is from the boy/man who wants to “loosen” you up. This could be anyone — a friend, the guy in your class etc. A big trick is to keep refilling drinks before a girl is finished so she cannot gauge how much she is drinking. This makes a woman more receptive — or so the guys think.

    I would like to hear advice along the lines of — Both men and women should be careful of how much they drink and should refrain from sexual activity.

    But:
    “Freshmen need to be extra careful as they may be targets for abuse by upperclassmen.”

    at least for girls this is excellent advice. (plying girls w/alcohol trick works best on freshmen who have not had much experience with alcohol.)

    “When studying in the library, be observant.”
    I think this is good advice as well. Not because assaults are common in libraries, but because I remember a rash of thefts at the library where I went to college. If you are not paying attention, it’s easy for a thief to quietly pick up a bag and keep walking.

  99. I think there’s a difference between using one’s common sense and living in a heightened state of constant fear.

    ****

    Larry: Basically, you’re advocating the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You. Respect and courtesy and thoughtfulness.

  100. @Jen C. – May I join you on the bad mom bench? My kid has been on his own at home at age 9 all this holiday vacation.

    Shockingly, he is still alive and unharmed.

  101. @Larry — I guess it’s hard to come across all ironic-like in written comments, and since I’m normally writing positive stuff about Germany in regard to the free range kid issue, you’ve mistakingly (I think??) took me to be pro-dog and pro-the attitude here of free-ranging their dogs. Wrong! I also don’t hate dogs, but believe the mutts belong on a leash in public! I grudging admit, however, that taken all in all, the overwhelming majority of these pooches are very well behaved indeed. However, in my view, it’s still not okay have your dog off a leash in a public place. Example being the situ I mentioned before.

    I was with my toddler child in a park-like area along the river, child was having a swell time making a game out of running down a hill in adorable abandon when the “puppy” comes bounding up (“puppy” towering over child) and naturally freaked her out completely. Owner: “He’s okay, he won’t do anything”. Oh well, that’s alright then – not! He’s already “done” something. A child that age doesn’t understand that the beast isn’t going to do her harm. Damn, I’m not sure I really do. My kid, was, of course, too freaked out to continue her game, and didn’t even want to stay in the park. Our lovely little morning – ruined – cause someone can’t be bothered to put their dang dog on a leash.

    As to streets. Here we do indeed differ. I suppose you could say I feel the same way about cars in residential streets as I do about people with dogs in public places: They are the ones that should watch out, keep control, and take into consideration that pedestrians, bikes, or playing children may be there. Not the other way around. Of course it’d be madness as a pedestrian, bicyclist or playing child to expect that, but that’s a different thing.

  102. This safety “expert” obviously isn’t expert enough to give factual guidelines. A little google searching to reputable websites would have given her most of the info she needs.
    This person did not appreciate having her expertise questioned. Notice the classic ad hominem attack. “You may feel overwhelmed by the advice…..other people liked it.” In other words, what’s wrong with you for not liking it? Other people did. Right, if others liked the advice it must be good, right?
    The gas station thing, as others have commented, is really bizarre. Presumably standing next to the car while pumping gas is not safe enough? So I should unbuckle my 5-year-old and wiggly 15-month-old and have them next to me in the winter cold, exposing them to gas fumes and cars constantly driving in and out? While I simultaneously pump gas and pay? Really, that’s safer???

  103. And another thing…..it disgusts me how my fellow Americans are so in awe of “experts”. Experts say….blah blah blah. Why are so many of us so sheep-like? Do your own research, parents. Form an educated opinion. Dare to parent the way that seems most practical and pragmatic to you.

    I want all of us to stop quaking in unjustified fear and stop giving experts so much power over our lives. I don’t even read the parenting magazines anymore, as I am heartily sick of them.

  104. @coffeegod Sure, pull up a seat! Plenty of room here!🙂

  105. @LauraL That’s exactly right. Consistency is the thing I’m looking for–if my children should have to behave, if I have to keep my music quiet, then your dog should be taught to behave with regards to running loose bothering people & you should have to keep your dog quiet just as I have to keep my music quiet. Again: consistency.

    @Tuppence Good to hear, and thanks for clarifying (dogs).

    As for streets–well, I think we’re pretty much alike actually. Yes, on residential streets, the cars should watch for the kids, and not go barreling down there fast. It’s just that, regardless, I still consider even such streets to be for the cars first, only to the extent that, once a car shows up, a child should move out of the way, vs planting themselves there refusing to budge while a commuter has to wait all day on the child’s whim.

    On busy roads, 4-6 lane highways, I take that farther. It should be almost 100% about the cars. I don’t even believe in crosswalks, when I lived in Tucson AZ, people would push that button and stroll along at a ridiculously slow speed as if they had all day, tying up dozens of cars in the process. My thought was–there are PEOPLE in those cars who have to stop & wait, and who does that person think they are, that they alone matter more than all of those dozens of people, on a road DESIGNED for heavy traffic usage?

    But on a residential road–by all means, drivers should have totally different expectations, and the children shouldn’t have to worry about being hit and should be able to play. Just move over to the side when the cars DO show up, that’s all.

    LRH

  106. This officer is like many. ignorant of the research. While his intentions are honorable his advice is based primarily on myths and lies promoted by politicians for votes and the entertainment news media for ratings.

    These people “Intentionally” ignore the mountains of research and promote their own selfish agenda in the guise of protecting children and society.

    If they were truly serious, they need to base their laws on RESEARCH. We would them be a better and safer society.

    Report of Sex Offender Policy Task Force – http://t.co/kqNc0xZ

  107. This worldview sounds like something out of the DSM mental disorders manual- maybe generalised anxiety disorder with hypervigilance as a prominent symptom.

    Also, I agree with Meggles: “other people agree with me” is not a proper argument.

  108. I’ll go with the RESEARCH every time. FACTS are FACTS. The numbers are real.

    In recent years social scientists and criminologists have combed through an immense accumulation of data from hundreds of studies, which have tracked tens of thousands of individual sex offenders for long periods of time, some even for decades.

    By 1994, 670 studies of sex offenders had been done and by the end of 2005 well over 700. Many of these studies have been systematized through a methodology called meta-analysis. The resulting data reveal that many common myths about sex offenders are simply false. We outline here some of them.

    These studies is what law makers ignore

  109. @ Larry – Give me a break!! You consider it akin to stalking if a dog barks at you from it’s own yard when you walk by it’s yard? That is, by far, the most ridiculous comment that I’ve probably ever read/heard in my life. And you will certainly be fined for constantly calling the police about a neighbors dog barking at you from it’s own property.

    Don’t get me wrong. I agree that someone’s dog should not come onto my property. I also agree that a neighbor should not leave a dog outside that’s barking nonstop. But occasionally people do things that annoy us (such as own dogs since few don’t bark occasionally). Part of living in amongst other people is accepting that your life is not going to be perfect and devoid of minor irritants. I highly suggest that you remain in the country if that is your attitude against neighbors and dogs.

  110. I am a college professor. My advice to students:

    Put the freaking drinks down and COME TO CLASS. Then I won’t have to fail your sorry selves and see you again next term. Ahem. Sorry. Pet peeve.

    But really, the helicopter parents have unleashed a generation of clueless folks on college campuses. These are kids who can probably text blindfolded underwater, but need mom and dad to register them for classes, buy their books for them, wake them up in the moring, and pester their professors when they (God forbid!) get an A-. I dunno, when I was in college in the 90’s, it was common sense not to go alone to a party and get wasted to the point of incoherency. You went with friends, you looked out for each other. Not that no one ever went to far when under the influence, but we didn’t need to be told “Don’t get sh!tfaced in a room full of drunken frat boys”. Seemed pretty obvious.

  111. @Donna Of course it’s stalking. Absolutely. At the least, it’s noise pollution. It certainly is stalking or harassment if an animal trespasses onto your property, or, if while you’re walking by the dog owner’s place, the dog not only yaps at you, but also runs out onto the road and nips at your heels, as that particular gentleman’s dog has a tendency to do.

    Which, by the way, in the city limits, is a violation of dog leash ordinances, and yes, I’d be the type to report it, even video record it for proof. I’m not the type to tattle-tale on people for every little thing, but something like that which is irritating me personally–in a New York minute I’d certainly tattle-tale, especially if the owner was like so many I’ve seen before, adamantly defensive of their “right” to let their dogs bother other people that way.

    Yes there are irritants one must live with, but there are others a person simply shouldn’t have to tolerate. I’ve trained my dog to keep quiet and not run out into the road and harass other people (what few there are where I’m at anyway), and don’t consider it anything other than my responsibility to others to do so.

    A person, to me, has the right to quiet enjoyment of their property and neighborhood without some yapping poodle coming out there harassing them. It’s a person’s responsibility, your right to own a yapping dog ends when its noise meets my ears, just as your right to blare a loud stereo or the like ends where my ears begin.

    Yes, if it’s OCCASIONAL every now & then, fine, nothing is perfect like you said–but if it’s seemingly every time I step outside, it taints the environment and is, to me, a form of pollution. I find it totally a double standard, also, that people are so quick to attack someone making noise playing music, even if they’re a musician (no I’m not), but so defensive of a dog’s “right” to make noise. Sorry, I don’t buy that–noise is noise. I live quietly myself, and expect silence around me. Period.

    If it’s something unavoidable, by all means, learn to adjust somewhat–heck, that area I checked out had a horn-blowing train that came by periodically, I’m sure not going to be able to tell the train to get lost. But you don’t ask a person to be tolerate of an animal coming out into the road harassing them or barking at them across from their property, spray-painting that victim’s property lines with unwanted noise pollution.

    City OR county.

    LRH

  112. I once lived next door to a neighbor who would let her dog outside early in the morning and leave him out all day long. It drove me up the wall because my bedroom window was right above where her dog would bark incessantly.

    Non. Stop. Barking.

    Instead of becoming upset, I wrote a letter. the letter outlined the city ordinances she was violating and politely asked her to observe them.

    She did. Problem solved.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to our kids, there are more parents out there who think that there are laws against allowing our kids to free-range than not. They are, of course, paranoid sheep who must be informed about the realities of the situation in a polite but firm manner.

    As with my moronic neighbor and her mutt, I hope that my politely-given information will shut up the paranoid yappers.

  113. “Don’t get sh!tfaced in a room full of drunken frat boys”. Seemed pretty obvious.

    Interesting no advice is given to college boys to beware of making themselves vulnerable to false rape accusations – also rampant on campuses, and also swept under the carpet.

    In spite of all the uber encouragement for “victims” to come forward, and the lamenting that they don’t, not a single word about the horror of a false rape accusation – not even in the face of the Duke LaCrosse or Hofstra accusations.

    Vital statistics are kept on everything from how often human beings blink to how many flies a frog eats per day – but NO statistics are kept on false rape accusations.

    None whatsoever.

    Boys are bad, girls are good. No need to keep score.

  114. Turnabout is fair play…

    Since I keep my dog on a leash when we’re in public (21lbs, shih tzu, loves to knock over small children and lick their faces), I want parents to teach their children that it’s not O.K. to run up to any dog, on or off leash, and pet the dog/grab the dog/yell at the dog/whatever. My dog is very happy with attention–she expects it from people–but too many times I’ve had to stop a kid from rushing in (with the brainless parents watching their little dear!) and give the “how to approach a dog on a leash” lesson. That’s the one that starts with, “Ask the owner if it’s OK to pet the dog.”

  115. @ walkamungus — done and done. I’ve never understood people who let their children rush up to a strange dog. I think they think it’s a good way for a child to learn not to be afraid of dogs. An ill conceived way to go ’bout it to my mind.

  116. @Tuppence — too true.

    My dog is indeed a people dog, but if she’s hurt, sick, tired, or just unprepared, she might snap at a kid. And then if the parents are “my child can do no wrong” types, she’s a “vicious dog” and not just, well, a dog.

  117. @SgtMom…while the data is not detailed or consistent about false reporting of rapes, it is *not* nonexistent.

    According to the research I’ve read, the Department of Justice estimates that false reporting of rapes is at about the same level as other crimes, which is relatively low, usually 2-8% of all cases. This can vary widely depending on the population, but on college campuses, false reporting is not epidemic. Not reporting is.

    When cases like Duke LaCrosse occur, false reporting gets trumpeted by the media as the problem. But a big problem lies in how the media disproportionately conveys false reports of rape as the norm, rather than the exception, and thus perpetuates that belief.

  118. @SgtMom – I wonder if a false report of a rape is worse than a false report of any other major felony of violence against a person. Of course, for there to be a murder accusation, you need a dead (or at least missing) victim. Even for an aggravated assault, you’d usually need to see a victim who was pretty well beaten up.

    I’m *NOT* saying that false rape accusations are more or less common (because I haven’t done any research). I’m simply saying that such accusations are much scarier because there is very little evidence that is required, beyond a personal statement, in order to make such an accusation stick.

  119. lisa, others: One reason the statistics about false rape accusations are inconsistent is that the studies don’t consistently define what constitutes a false rape accusation. Some limit the term to a malicious accusation (there was no rape and the accuser knows it). Those will find a pretty low rate. At the other extreme, some studies would count a false accusation if a woman is raped but incorrectly identifies her assailant (eyewitness misidentification is a really serious problem and has been the root cause of false convictions in something like a quarter of the cases the Innocence Project has handled); those studies will find a much higher rate.

    Then there are the sticky cases where sexual contact has definitely occurred but the parties differ as to whether or not it was consensual. And you also have to define whether a “false rape accusation” was actually made to the authorities, or just to part of the campus community.

    It’s the sticky cases where college men are probably at the most risk, but simple responsibility can avoid most of the danger. Forensic psychologist Karen Franklin’s research has found that the root cause of most campus rape, particularly the “sticky” cases, is guys trying to impress their buddies with their “ability” to get young women drunk and then score with them; it’s not even a case of the guys trying to fulfill their sexual needs. She describes this as “cultural theater” and finds it similar to the motivation of many gay-bashers (which was the subject of her thesis).

    So what’s really needed on the part of college men is cultural change; a guy who has to get women drunk in order to have sex with them needs to be seen as a loser rather than a stud.

  120. *It’s rare that anyone says, “hey guys, don’t drink too much, and don’t have sex with a woman if you aren’t 100% sure she’s into it, because otherwise, you might do something you regret.”*

    Not so rare at all. I was told that, repeatedly, by my mom, when I was a teen. I have said that, repeatedly, to all of the teens and young men that I am associated with in the 25 years since I was a teen. I said this repeatedly to all of my fraternity brothers when I was in college.

    I don’t know if that’s rare or not, but I do agree that no matter how common it is for men to say that to other men, it should be even more common.

    If men internalized that consent is a positive act – one that DOES NOT COUNT if she is drunk – there’d be many fewer rapes and accusations thereof.

  121. The Kanin and McDowell studies have put the reports of false rape accusations more at 50%.

    Yes. 50% – that is, 50% accusers recant when asked to undergo a polygraph.

    How often are accusers asked to undergo a polygraph?

    …as compared to the accused being asked to undergo a polygraph?

    It’s why I have always advocated for BOTH accused and accuser to undergo polygraph – surely being falsely accused is upsetting, just as as being raped.

    We can only rely on magical thinking and unfounded speculation as to how many “real” rapes are not reported.

    Oh. And News Flash: men who have to get women drunk in order to have sex with them already ARE considered losers – otherwise ALL men would be doing it.

    2nd news flash: ALL men AREN’T doing it.

    Women with failing grades are given a pass after a rape claim, for vengeance, to get attention and/or sympathy, or when doing something illegal or immoral they don’t want to have to explain. Certainly NOT because their reports aren’t specially funded and more than welcome. Colleges have even been found inflating the numbers to receive funding.

    Evil isn’t gender exclusive.

  122. @walkamungus and @tuppence

    Agreed. The problem I had with both my children when they were younger is that that had no fear of dogs. None at all. I had to teach them how to read doggy body language (tail, ears, nose, etc. ), how to ask permission to pet the dog, and how to approach the dog once permission was given (from the front, hand out, etc. ). But, you know, I grew up with dogs. A lot of adults probably don’t know these things themselves.

    On the flip side, I’ve been on a mission to get dog owners to say a blunt “no” instead of “oh I’m sorry, he’s not feeling well today/not good with children” or whatever.

  123. as for drinking safely , take a tip from a recovering alcoholic: Only let someone you know and trust buy a drink for you. Drink clear drinks, so it’s easier to see if some thing is in it. Don’t gulp down drinks – make sure they taste right. If you drink more than two drinks an hour , you may end up getting drunker, even after you stop drinking. And, girls, make an agreement that you will not leave the people you came with, without checking in with them.

  124. @Claudia Conway I agree with you that learning moderation is the way to go, but being cautioned about accepting drinks is also a good thing.

    The 2 spiked drinks I’ve been handed were spiked with alcohol.

    1. At a University Party spiked with Everclear. I was ticked off and glad I figured it out. I poured out the drink, left and never trusted that person again.

    2. Was my cousins. They wanted to see goody two shoes drunk. I didn’t smell or taste it this time. Thankfully I hadn’t needed my allergy meds that don’t mix well. So my cousins got to haul me home, sneak me in their house, and lie to their mother. My Mom busted them but good. She called and was told I was still asleep late in the morning. I don’t sleep late. Mom told my Aunt they aren’t tired they are hung over get Kimberly on the phone now.

    Then she read me the riot act about not being careful and that I should have known better. Then she took my 2 cousins apart. The 3 of us got that age old lesson about over drinking a hard day’s work cleaning our Nanna’s house.

    Oh the reason I knew at 18 that I shouldn’t drink. My parents let my sister and I have controlled amounts of alcohol starting at 13 or 14 (legal in Texas). I learned early that I have a “soft head”. 1/2 a glass of wine and the world swirls. My sister found she is ok drinking and has a normal tolerance. When I went away to University, I already knew that alcohol and I don’t mix.

    I have weird reactions. Meds the doctor warns me might make me hyper – knock me out for hours. Meds that are suppose to knock me out – make me combative (Took a swing at a nurse and orderly during day surgery)

  125. “Women with failing grades are given a pass after a rape claim,”

    Are you kidding me?!? They might be allowed to repeat the semester if they take it off for mental health, being given “incompletes” until then.

    Yes, some people lie.

    However, rape is massively under-reported and repeatedly dismissed. Most rapes never go to court because the woman is accused of lying, and physical evidence is so hard to collect because police stations do not have the kits to do it!!!

    Polygraphs are ridiculously unreliable. There are people who fail them when asked their own name.

    @ Everyone else–I think the point of alcohol here is a key one. It’s a drug, and it’s dangerous for many people for a variety of reasons. Obviously something needs to change because we all seem to agree that sending kids off to college without drinking experience, but with the opportunity (if not a legal one) to drink, is a recipe for disaster.

  126. Hi,

    Love this blog and it is encouraging to read about other parents who want to see their children grow up to be independent and able to take care of themselves.

    My family recently moved from Georgia to Berlin, Germany. Here parenting is much more “hands off” then back home, and I am really enjoying giving my children a larger measure of freedom here.

    A big step for us was letting our daughter walk by herself to the bakery on Saturday mornings to get us freshly baked rolls. It isn’t too long a walk and she loves the responsibility she feels when on her Saturday morning bread run.

    Many parents here also let their children walk to school alone. I haven’t gotten that far yet (in particular because there is one certifiably crazy man who roams our street every morning and I am not thrilled about the thought of idea of my daughter encountering him alone), but I am considering it. Once spring comes I may start babystepping her walk to school by walking half way with her and then letting her walk the rest of the way on her own.

    Since we have been here we heard of one child abduction which occurred while the boy was walking home alone from school. That is scary, but when you think that children are also abducted from their own homes (think Elizabeth Smart), it really does seem that they are in no less danger when outside.

  127. Elizabeth – how do you know rapes are “massively” under reported?

    Seriously, how do you know this?

    I’ve been told alien abductions are massively under reported, too.

    I don’t believe either myth.

    The accused may claim “she’s lying” but the police certainly don’t. I call BS on your “Lack of rape kit” story as well. HUGE attention and extra funding goes toward college rape centers – and that’s NOT a myth.

    If a case does not make it to court it is because of Lack Of Evidence – not because police don’t take women’s rape claims seriously.

    It’s that annoying little piece of paper called The Constitution that gets in the way.

    I guess that’s why massive numbers of men have fought and died to protect the Constitution while so few women have – you just don’t hear of women spending decades in prison on the say so of men. “Better 10 guilty men go free than to wrongfully convict an innocent” does not apply to women.

    Kind of like signing up for selective service – false rape accusations affect males almost exclusively so why aknowledge it?

    Let’s focus on the mythical masses of raped women languishing in victimhood for fear of not being believed or not enough rape kits.

    I strongly advise any parent of a college bound son to read the falserape.net site. It tells the Accused’s side of the Air Force Rape Scandal, and includes facts the Oprah show left out – like each and every one of the accusers were failing in school and facing expulsion, facing repaying school loans of over $200,000.00.

    We have been lead to believe in spite of enormous public pressure to convict at any cost, the military closed ranks and protected some mad rapist male cadets just because they were male.

  128. “Two percent of all reports are false.” Wendy McElroy -ifeminists.

    Several years ago, I tried to track down the origin of this much-cited stat. The first instance I found of the figure was in Susan Brownmiller’s book on sexual assault entitled “Against Our Will” (1975). Brownmiller claimed that false accusations in New York City had dropped to 2 percent after police departments began using policewomen to interview alleged victims.

    Elsewhere, the two percent figure appears without citation or with only a vague attribution to “FBI” sources. Although the figure shows up in legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act, legal scholar Michelle Anderson of Villanova University Law School reported in 2004, “no study has ever been published which sets forth an evidentiary basis for the two percent false rape complaint thesis.”

    In short, there is no reason to credit that figure.

    “Forty-one percent of all reports are false.”

    This claim comes from a study conducted by Eugene J. Kanin of Purdue University. Kanin examined 109 rape complaints registered in a Midwestern city from 1978 to 1987.

    Of these, 45 were ultimately classified by the police as “false.” Also based on police records, Kanin determined that 50 percent of the rapes reported at two major universities were “false.”

    Although Kanin offers solid research, I would need to see more studies with different populations before accepting the figure of 50 percent as prevalent; to me, the figure seems high.

    But even a skeptic like me must credit a DNA exclusion rate of 20 percent that remained constant over several years when conducted by FBI labs. This is especially true when 20 percent more were found to be questionable.

    False accusations are not rare. They are common.

  129. Many many, many men and juvenile males have been pressured into guilty pleas out of THREAT of many years behind bars, because that is how the system works. Regardless of the crime but more so when it comes to an accusation of a sexual charge. Juries are very emotional and are inclined to bring back a guilty verdict regardless of the evidence or lack of it. Just in case he might be guilty.

  130. It’s FEAR not FACT that makes up the sex offender

    Report of Sex Offender Policy Task Force – http://t.co/fKf379k

  131. While on the subject of false rape/sexual assault accusations. Some girls got caught not long ago in Alberta. A Cab driver kicked some drunk girls out of his cab for smoking(smoking in cabs is illegal), they got angry and started screaming rape as soon as they got out of the cab. It was a busy street, and passerby’s actually tried to beat the cabbie. He was arrested. Lucky for him he had a cam that recorded the whole incident. None of the girls came forward and admitted it until they were informed about the cam. The girls never got nothing while this guy’s reputation is ruined.

    IMO, the problem is no one ever wants to admit that there are women out there who make false accusations(kinda like hardly anyone will admit women can be just as abusive as men). They don’t want to be the ones to say “Hey, I think the victim is lying.” or side with an accused rapist. At the very least we should be teaching girls how serious false accusations can be, but we aren’t.

  132. P.S. In highschool a girl accused a boy sexual harassment. The boy was mentally disabled and couldn’t even locate his own dick let alone grab a girls ass.

    I was also accused of stalking another girl at school. Staff even came up to about it. I didn’t even know who the girl was. Still don’t. Nothing came out of it.

  133. Okay, I wanna know where this bozo lives who thinks you need to get your kids out of the car when you pump gas.

    That would be INSANE in some parts of the country, in winter. I mean, it’s dumb enough anywhere because the kids are in far more danger from other cars and gas fumes out of the car than from anything in the car, but when it’s 20 degrees out, it is RIDICULOUS to think that kids are better off standing MOTIONLESS by the car (and it gets a lot lower than 20 around here, and lower than that other places.)

    This cop can’t possibly be from anywhere where it gets cold. If he is, he’s not just well-meaningly deluded, he’s an idiot who is recommending that you expose children (babies!) to dangerous levels of cold. Remember, we’re not talking about playing outside, where there’s movement — this is standing by the car to be “safe.” And I do want to know where mom’s supposed to PUT THE CAR SEAT WITH THE INFANT while she’s pumping gas?????????

  134. I have no problem with saying that some women lie about rape.

    I believe rape is under-reported because the percentage of women who claim they were raped in anonymous surveys is far higher than the percentage of women who have brought such cases to court. This has been shown in studies in several areas among several groups. We know which groups report rape less often (young girls, minorities, girls from specific religious groups) and which girls will report more often (those with education on what to do in case they are raped, usually, and empowered groups).

  135. “If a case does not make it to court it is because of Lack Of Evidence – not because police don’t take women’s rape claims seriously.”

    I don’t think you get the point here.

    There is shame attached to rape–even when the woman was not drunk, was in public, and during the day.

    So women tend not to report these crimes in a timely manner.

    So the evidence is gone and it’s he-said-she-said unless it was seriously brutal.

    If you think I’m a man-hater (I’m not), I will say that domestic violence against men is also massively under-reported, and so is sexual harrassment of teenage boys. The shame reduces the reporting and the evidence is hard to gather. It happens and it’s not being prosecuted.

    There, can you at least accept that THOSE crimes are under-reported?

    Now try to think–is it possible that young women might be in a similar situation?

    Nobody’s saying that accused rapists shouldn’t get fair trials. We are saying, this is a real danger and not like child abduction by strangers which is astronomically rare.

  136. The fact is. ALL crimes are under reported.

  137. The Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts rescued two children from a burning car and nearly got punched in the face by someone who thought he was trying to kidnap them.

  138. MY point, Elizabeth, is that boys and men are in as much danger as women – yet there is absolutely little or no concern shown to men who are victims of REAL and VERIFIABLE crimes, as opposed to numbers reported by anonymous sources.

    The might be “shame” attached to reporting rape, but that is NOT because accusers are mistreated by law enforcement.

    Women are no longer considered chattel or “damaged goods”. They are still anonymous while the person they accuse is publicly branded for life as an accused rapist. If found to be falsely reporting they are rarely punished. Rape crisis centers and hotlines are available for victims of rape. There is no where for anyone falsely accused to turn.

    Accusers are granted immediate “victim” status, and even after they are exposed as liars, accusers are still referred to as “victims”, and protective measures are taken to guard other women from a crime that never happened.

    Even after the Duke LaCrosse parents paid millions to buy justice for their sons, they were STILL regarded as guilty by reason of boorishness, and NEVER received an apology from those who so stridently denounced them publicly.

    I have not called you a man hater, but I will call you a rape myth propagator.

  139. The advice I am going to give all of my kids, male and female, is to be sober enough to lock their doors.

    The only person I know who has told me they were raped, was a man. He was drunk, the guy thought that any hole would do.

    Since then, the only on campus rapes that I have heard about in MY area, have involved men against men. Why? Because the perps went down the hall trying doors. The women’s doors were locked. The very drunk guys passed out on the beds? They didn’t lock their doors.

    And if you think that rapes against women are underreported, think of what it does to a man’s self image to admit to being raped.

  140. Did anybody else catch the phrase, “.. you are inviting a kidnapping, a carjacking or both!” From what I understand about inflicted harm: violation is about power not invitation.
    Somewhere the professionalism and maturity of local authority has been lost.

  141. @SgtMom, I don’t want to derail this thread, but I have to point out that the Duke Lacrosse parents didn’t *buy* justice for their sons, they paid millions to *get* the justice that their sons deserved and were denied in the rush to judgement.

  142. Beth – are you saying the Duke LaCrosse accused would NOT be in prison right now if not for the millions their parents spent defending their innocence?

    Are you implying the rogue prosecutor would not have been brought down and disbarred, and the Group of 88 protesters would not have been exposed for the man haters they are if these boys had had ordinary legal council instead of extraordinary millionaire’s legal council?

    America has the best legal system money can buy.

  143. The way the legal system works is, A lot of money= your rights, some money=some rights and no money= NO RIGHTS!

    Consistency is the hobgoblin- A devastating critique of the courts by Corey Rayburn Yung: – CFC Guest Forum – http://t.co/I6WXA2s

  144. SgtMom, NO. I am not saying anything like that at all. I objected to your statement that the parents bought justice, as if it weren’t deserved, but since they had enough money the kids were exonerated.

    My point was they had to spend that kind of money just to GET the justice they deserved; it was not unfairly “bought”.

  145. Beth, as the mother of a falsely accused son, you can rest assured I was NOT implying the parents bought their son’s innocence.

    Those young men were innocent.

    If their parents had not had the millions to defend them, they WOULD be in prison or forced into no lo or alford plea agreements to avoid prison rape, the “aggreived” supporters celebrating their triumph over evil college boys and the prosecutor a “hero” with additional notches in his belt.

    Most of us do not have millions to defend our innocent sons of false accusations, which is why I feel as much empahsis should be placed on teaching young men how EASY it is to be falsely accused, and how frequently it happens as we do instilling the illusion that college campuses are a hotbed of rape fiends.

    False accusations are a crime without consequence for the perpetrator, and horrific never ending consequences for the falsely accused.

  146. This is exactly why the politics of hate and Myths must stop.

    ALL the reliable studies show recidivism of first time offenders is in the single digits.

    Politicians lie on a regular basis for votes. Creating FEAR and HATE among the populace and portraying themselves as the defender of children. When in FACT, over 700 studies have been made and the common denominator is that these laws endanger children and society, they are but “feel good,” “knee jerk,” “emotional reaction” filled with political lies.

    Will this country ever return to sanity over these “More Harm than Good” Laws.

  147. Two States – CA and Texas have Recommended NOT to adopt the Adam Walsh Act – http://t.co/J99MEdK

    Wonder Why? It’s time to check out the findings and demand laws based on RESEARCH. Research is what is lacking when it comes to sex offender legislation.

  148. Sgt Mom, I’m not arguing with anything you say, other than the one word that rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry, I’m not sure why you think I am. I have researched the Duke case as well, and I know they were innocent; I’m not saying otherwise.

    I will shut up now!

  149. Beth – for the record those parents bought their sons JUSTICE.

    There are those, like Wendy Murphy, who still insist they are guilty of “something”.

    An innocent person must be able to afford innocence or they are NOT innocent, is all I said or implied.

    Innocence does not exist if you can’t afford it. That’s what compromising plea bargains are or.

    Those boys would be legally guilty if their parents hadn’t had the means to afford their innocence.

    Innocence and Truth means nothing in a court of law.

  150. If you are falsely accused: How to avoid the most painful mistakes-“Your innocence does not protect you.” – http://t.co/18pH6RS

    Great article.

  151. “WENDY MURPHY GETS HER ASS KICKED!” Retort to Wendy Murphy article – CFC Guest Forum – http://t.co/dadKlsV

  152. Statistically, child mortality, crime against children, and crime in general, and continuing to fall steadily. To imply otherwise in fearmongering, plain and simple.

    I don’t know about now, but when I was little I was taught that if anyone I didn’t trust tried to take me somewhere, I should ask a nearby adult for help, or if someone tried to take me by force to scream “this is not my mommy/daddy” at the top of my lungs. This was never needed, but it was there just in case. I would certainly hope that if I were in a crowded store and some child was being carried away screaming ‘help, this is not my mommy.’ that I wouldn’t just stand around. So is the “expert” saying that most people are worthless and wouldn’t help a child if you paid them, or that stalking your kids every move is better protection than teaching them to ask for help?

  153. The bathroom thing is just ridiculous. I remember one time when I was spending the day with my relatives, my aunt took us to McDonalds for lunch. While we were there, my four year old cousin asked to use the bathroom, and I volunteered to take him because I had already finished eating. Overestimating his height, I let him use the MENS room by himself (I’m a girl). Guess what? He didn’t get kidnapped, he sucessfully used the bathroom by himself, and when he was too short to reach the sink, a man in the restroom helped him reach the soap. My aunt was thoroughly annoyed with me. My cousin was beaming with pride.

  154. I was intrigued by these two articles …
    http://www.kidpower.org/resources/articles/illusion-of-safety.html
    http://www.kidpower.org/resources/articles/everyones-business.html
    and would love to see them discussed here … particularly as both sides of the issue seem to be a bit ‘out of line’ in my instinctive opinion.
    A ‘just walking’ child should not be so far from her carers that she could wander into the path of a cyclist, yet I don’t think she should have been held constantly or ‘within arm’s reach’ either – I think a couple of metres would have been fine, for me, for my boys, in a park situation. Within the range of voice communication and within sight …
    What do you think, Free Range community?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: